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Palestinians mourn relatives killed in Israeli attacks Alamy

Airstrike kills 12, mostly children, in Gaza area declared 'safe zone' by Israel

Israel had called for Palestinians to ‘emigrate’ from the the Gaza to allow for the establishment of Israeli settlements.


AN ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE has flattened a home in an area of southern Gaza that the military had declared a safe zone, as Israeli troops continued their assault in the nearby city of Khan Younis.

Palestinian hospital officials said the blast killed at least 12 people, almost all of them children.

Israel’s offensive has focused on Khan Younis, where the military said today it has uncovered tunnels used by Hamas and was fighting members of the militant group that attacked southern Israel on October 7.

Israel has vowed to continue its campaign in Gaza until Hamas is destroyed. An apparent Israeli strike that killed a top Hamas leader in Beirut has stirred fresh fears that the conflict could expand into other parts of the region.

The killing of Sameh Arouri prompted warnings of retaliation from Hamas’ ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

But there was no immediate escalation in the daily exchanges of rocket fire and shells between Hezbollah and the Israeli military over the two countries’ border.

palestinians-mourn-relatives-killed-in-the-israeli-bombardment-of-the-gaza-strip-outside-a-morgue-in-khan-younis-on-thursday-jan-4-2024-ap-photomohammed-dahman Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip outside a morgue in Khan Younis Alamy Alamy

Earlier this week, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for promoting “a solution to encourage the emigration of Gaza’s residents” and the re-establishment of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

The call was condemned by the United Nations, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the conflict broke out in October.

The fighting erupted after Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy the group, launching bombardment and a ground invasion that has reduced swathes of Gaza to rubble and claimed at least 22,313 lives, according to the territory’s health ministry.

The vast majority of Gaza’s residents have been forced out of their homes by nearly three months of fighting between Hamas militants and Israel.

The United Nations estimates 1.9 million Gazans are displaced, and the World Health Organization has warned of the risk of famine and disease, with only a minimal amount of aid entering the territory.

The Israeli military has today reported more strikes in and around Gaza City, now a largely devastated urban combat zone, and Khan Yunis, the biggest urban centre in the besieged territory’s south.

The Gaza health ministry reported “dozens of martyrs and more than 100 wounded in the continued barbaric aerial and artillery bombardment of citizens’ homes in the Gaza Strip”.

- © AFP 2024  with additional reporting by PA